On the final chapter of his trio of EPs, Cal Stamp is releasing LEATHER, that takes dead aim at 80’s pop-rock royalty similar to Bon Jovi, Journey, and Tom Petty. The great part about the songs in this set is that Cal is able to recapture the spirit of this era of music while still adding some modern flair to make it sound refreshing and new. When speaking on his trilogy of EPs, Cal Stamp shared, “All of these songs could easily coexist on the same record. It’s basically my take on 1980s pop-rock, but within that you’ve got the synth-driven yacht rock of NYLON, the acoustic heartland rock of DENIM, and the straight-ahead rock ’n’ roll of LEATHER – each representing a different strand of my own musical DNA.” By injecting a fresh take on the pop-rock genre, Cal Stamp delivers the goods on LEATHER.
The set kicks off with “Invincible” that has a similar opening guitar riff to Aerosmith’s “Cryin'” that sets the tone for the rest of the song. Cal starts off his vocals cautiously in the verses to showcase the vulnerability in the lyrics, before gradually building confidence in the chorus to highlight the contrast between the two sections of the song. The bridge features a nice piano-based section to showcase the growth in Cal Stamp’s songwriting and willingness to reinvent himself.
”21 Years” follows the thumping opener with some great guitar tones in the mix as Cal’s crisp vocals cut through the guitar riff like a knife. The song reminded me a lot of Bon Jovi’s Slippery When Wet styled ballads, paired with just enough of a twist to make it his own. The track gradually builds to a rewarding crescendo that allows for Cal’s guitar playing to kick into a new gear as he lifts the single to its intended heights. Closing out the LEATHER EP with my favorite song in the set, “Radio Is Dead,” is a wise choice, as it leaves the listener with the right taste in their mouth to be reaching for the replay button. The closer has a raucous beat and swagger to it that is hard to pull off this gracefully. When Cal Stamp riffs his way through the anthemic chorus, he’s at his best, and makes the journey through this trilogy of EPs so rewarding.
While I didn’t enjoy this EP as much as the first two records (NYLON and DENIM), LEATHER is still a fitting end to a collection of songs that highlight the sound that Cal Stamp wanted to explore. By honing in on the best parts of the pop-rock genre, Stamp has cemented himself as an artist to watch for the foreseeable future.